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European Commission Spokesman's Briefing for 96-07-18

Midday Express: News from the EU Commission Spokesman's Briefings Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: HR-Net News Distribution Manager <dist@hri.org>

MIDDAY EXPRESS

News from the Spokesman's midday briefing

Nouvelles du rendez-vous de midi du Porte-Paroleb

18 / 07 / 1996


CONTENTS / CONTENU

[I] Résultats de la Commission du 17 juillet - Outcome of Commission meeting of 17 July

  • [01] Burden of proof in sex discrimination cases - Commission adopts a proposal for a Council directive
  • [02] Franz Fischler outlines action to rebalance the beef market
  • [03] Accord intérimaire euro-méditerranéen de commerce et de coopération entre l'Union européenne et les Palestiniens
  • [04] Atlas-GlobalOne: feu vert de la Commission sous condition de libéralisation en France et en Allemagne
  • [05] La Commission approuve la fusion de Ciba-Geigy et Sandoz moyennant un engagement pris par les parties
  • [06] Commission approves Holland Media Groep in its modified form
  • [07] Commission opens procedure on contract-related aid to Bremer Vulkan Werft
  • [08] Commission opens procedure against Denmark on shipbuilding aid
  • [09] Commission approves a French aeronautics R&D scheme
  • [10] Commission opens investigation on Italian R&D aid to SGS-Thompson
  • [11] Commission declares land sales to Siemens real estate holding illegal
  • [12] Commission approve Dutch R&D scheme for environmental and energy efficiency in transport
  • [13] Commission decides to close against planned aid to a wood processing company
  • [14] La Commission approuve des aides à l'emploi en Extremadura (Espagne)
  • [15] Commission gives green light to French aid to Compagnie Générale Maritime
  • [16] Taxes dans le secteur agricole en Finlande
  • [17] Aides dans le secteur agricole et forestier en Italie
  • [18] BSE: beef and beef products disposal scheme in the United Kingdom
  • [19] Aides compensatoires agrimonétaires en Autriche et aux Pays-Bas
  • [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

  • [20] Egalité des rémunérations entre les femmes et les hommes: code de conduite
  • [21] EC takes new initiatives to foster cooperation amongst the New Independent States
  • [22] Euro-Asia meeting to tacke trade and investment barriers
  • [23] Somalia: Commission clears humanitarian aid worth ECU 1.52 million

  • [I] Résultats de la Commission du 17 juillet - Outcome of Commission meeting of 17 July

    [01] Burden of proof in sex discrimination cases - Commission adopts a proposal for a Council directive

    The European Commission has adopted a proposal for a Council Directive on the burden of proof in sex discrimination cases. This proposal aims to provide for a sharing of the burden of proof between plaintiff and defendant. In such cases, until now, a woman who alleged breach of the principle of equality has generally had to bear the full burden of proving her case, even where certain facts were easier for her employer to establish. The Commission plans to change the burden of proof rather than reversing it totally. The essence of this proposal is that the plaintiff would be required to provide evidence of probable or presumable discrimination. The defendant would then have to prove that there has been no infringement of the principle of equal treatment between men and women".

    [02] Franz Fischler outlines action to rebalance the beef market

    The European Commission gave Franz Fischler, Agriculture and Rural development Commissioner, green light for an orientation debate in the Council of Ministers on measures under consideration to help restore market balance in the beef sector. The measures aim at reducing beef production in the short and medium term by promoting extensification of production; introducing intervention for young animals (8/9 months of age); reducing the total number of producer rights to the male beef premium and by obliging all Member States to introduce the calf-slaughter premium which formed part of the CAP reform decision in 1992 but whose aplication by Member States was on a voluntary basis. It will also be necessary to increase the limit on purchases into intervention established under CAP Reform at 400,000 and 350,000 tonnes for 1996 and 1997 respectively. Funding for these and any other measures which may be decided upon will have to be found from within the agricultural budget. The Commission will draft concrete proposals after the orientation debate in the Council of Ministers.

    [03] Accord intérimaire euro-méditerranéen de commerce et de coopération entre l'Union européenne et les Palestiniens

    La Commission européenne vient d'adopter une recommandation de décision du Conseil des Ministres l'autorisant à négocier un accord euro-méditerranéen intérimaire relatif aux échanges et à la coopération entre l'Union européenne et les Palestiniens. Il régira l'ensemble des relations économiques et commerciales entre les parties et comportera entre autres des dispositions relatives à la coopération dans le domaine financier, social et culturel ainsi qu'aux aspects institutionnels appropriés.

    [04] Atlas-GlobalOne: feu vert de la Commission sous condition de libéralisation en France et en Allemagne

    La Commission européenne a donné son autorisation à l'alliance européenne de télécommunications entre France Télécom (DT) et Deutsche Telekom AG (DT), dénommée Atlas, et à l'alliance mondiale entre Atlas et Sprint Corp., récemment rebaptisée 'GlobalOne'. Cependant, la décision de la Commission fait dépendre l'inclusion de différents services et réseaux dans les alliances de la réforme réglementaire au niveau national. Une fois que les nouvelles lois françaises et allemandes de libéralisation de télécommunications seront entièrement mises en oeuvre et en état de fonctionnement, DT et FT pourront demander que la Commission réexamine les restrictions spécifiques attachées à la décision, qui dépendent de la nature concurrentielle du marché. En outre, la Commission approuve Atlas pour une période relativement courte de 5 ans. L'alliance sera examinée à nouveau en 2001, en même temps que l'entreprise commune 'Concert' de BT et MCI, qui a été approuvée en 1994.

    [05] La Commission approuve la fusion de Ciba-Geigy et Sandoz moyennant un engagement pris par les parties

    La Commission européenne a déclaré compatible avec le marché commun la fusion envisagée par les deux entreprises suisses Ciba-Geigy AB et Sandoz AG en une nouvelle entreprise dénommée Novartis AG. La décision est assortie de la condition que les parties respectent un engagement qu'elles ont pris dans le domaine de la santé animale. Des préoccupations de concurrence subsistaient en effet sur un marché du domaine de la santé animale: les antiparasitaires externes pour animaux de compagnie, à savoir les produits destinés au traitement de parasites tels que les puces et les tiques. Les parties détiendront ici une position particulièrement forte dans un segment. Trois des cinq substances actives mondialement disponibles pour fabriquer ces produits sont contrôlées par Ciba-Geigy et Sandoz. En particulier, l'accès à une substance active de Sandoz (méthoprène) a eu jusqu'ici une importance particulière pour les concurrents des parties. En vue de résoudre le problème, les parties se sont engagées à octroyer des licences non exclusives pour méthoprène et à fournir ladite substance active au licencié jusqu'à ce que celui-ci commence sa propre production.

    [06] Commission approves Holland Media Groep in its modified form

    The European Commission has decided to approve the Dutch TV joint venture Holland Groep SA (HMG) in its modified form. Initially, HMG was set up as a joint venture between RTL4 SA (RTL), Vereniging Veronica Omroeporganisatie (Veronica) and Endemol Entertainment Holding BV (Endemol) for the operation of the three Dutch general interest channels RTL4, RTL5 and Veronica. On 20 September 1995 the Commission declared this concentration which had already been completed incompatible with the common market. As a reaction to the Commission's decision Endemol withdrew completely its participation in HMG. Furthermore, HMG has entered vis-à-vis the Commission into the commitment to transform RTL5 from a general interest channel into a news channel. In view of these modifications, the Commission was now able to declare the concentration compatible with the common market.

    [07] Commission opens procedure on contract-related aid to Bremer Vulkan Werft

    The European Commission has doubts whether the contract-related aid given to Bremer Vulkan Werft for the construction of the cruise vessel "Costa I" is compatible with the Seventh Directive on Aid to Shipbuilding and the Treaty and therefore opened the formal investigation procedure foreseen under Article 93 (2) of the Treaty. In 1994 Bremer Vulkan Werft signed the contract for construction of the large cruise vessel "Costa I" which has been launched recently. The yard suffered heavy losses under this contract as the sales price amounts to about DM 600 million but costs exceeded by far DM 700 million. According to the information available to the Commission, the total aid given exceeds the ceiling of 9% of contract value before aid which is permissable under the Seventh Directive.

    [08] Commission opens procedure against Denmark on shipbuilding aid

    The European Commission has decided to open a procedure against Denmark because of the misinformation of prices for the construction of new vessels in Denmark during 1987-93. There are indications that in 65 cases the financing of vessels during the period was made on an inflated price level, which has created a risk that the state aid ceiling was exceeded.

    [09] Commission approves a French aeronautics R&D scheme

    The European Commission has approved a French research and development scheme for the aeronautics sector. The scheme covers the period 1996 to 2000, with a 1996 budget of ECU 196 million. Funding is proposed for research and development activities in the areas of airframes, aeroengines and avionics. The principal beneficiaries are individual companies, with a relatively small amount of ECU 7.5 million in 1996 for the financing of aeronautics R&;D activities by public non-profit making higher-education or research establishments. Falling under the scheme is aid to Aérospatiale for the 'Development of a new, long-range Airbus, the A330-200' and aid to the aeroengine manufacturer SNECMA for feasibility studies on aeroengines and development of associated design methodologies.

    [10] Commission opens investigation on Italian R&D aid to SGS-Thompson

    The European Commission opened an investigation regarding the Italian authorities proposal to provide research and development aid to SGS-Thomson, a highly successful, diversified and international semiconductor manufacturer. Funding of ECU 18 million is proposed to contribute to the costs of design and development of dedicated integrated-circuits and silicon processing methods for research which began in 1993. The integrated-circuits are for computer and power supply, telecommunications, automotive and audio/radio applications. There are serious doubts regarding several aspects of the proposed aid, principally in relation to the necessity for the aid, the 'incentive' effect, and the precompetitive nature of the work proposed.

    [11] Commission declares land sales to Siemens real estate holding illegal

    The European Commission decided that a land sales agreement between the City of Mainz and Fort Malakoff Grundstücksverwaltungsgesellschaft GmbH & Co KG of 1992 contained State aid of approx. DM 5 million which is incompatible with the common market and consequently to be recovered.

    [12] Commission approve Dutch R&D scheme for environmental and energy efficiency in transport

    The European Commission has approved a Dutch research and development scheme to promote activities that reduce fuel consumption and minimise pollution arising from goods transport. A budget of ECU 25 million is foreseen for the period 1996 to 2001, geared to funding collaborative projects between industrial enterprises (like shipping companies, intermodal agencies and distribution centres), research centres and universities.

    [13] Commission decides to close against planned aid to a wood processing company

    The European Commission decided to close proceedings of the EC Treaty against aid which the Land Lower Saxony proposes to award to Glunz AG for the restructuring of its production plant of chipboard and medium-density fibreboard at Meppen. Lower Saxony proposes to award a guarantee on a 12-year loan of DM 50 million for this restructuring, in addition to DM 9 million regional investment aid. The regional investment aid is awarded on the basis of the Gemeinschaftsaufgabe scheme, which has already been approved by the Commission; the Commission therefore has no problem with this aid. The guarantee had to be regarded as investment aid to a healthy company investing in a depressed area. Since the overall aid ceiling permitted in that area was kept, the Commission decided to approve the aid and to close the procedure.

    [14] La Commission approuve des aides à l'emploi en Extremadura (Espagne)

    La Commission européenne a approuvé un régime d'aide doté d'un budget de 5.700 millions pour la période 1996-99, conçu pour faciliter la création d'emplois et contribuer ainsi à améliorer les conditions du marché du travail en Extremadura. Les bénéficiaires directs en sont les petites et moyennes entreprises, qui recevront des subventions à fonds perdu modulées et décroissantes selon les cas : recrutement de chômeurs âgés de plus que 45 ans, recrutement de chômeurs âgés de moins que 45 ans et transformation de contrats d'emploi de courte durée en contrat à durée indéterminée.

    [15] Commission gives green light to French aid to Compagnie Générale Maritime

    The European Commission has closed the article 93.2 procedure relating to state aid paid by the French government to Compagnie Générale Maritime, providing certain conditions are met. These are that the French authorities provide a report on operating results and the proposed privatisation of the company by 1 February 1997 at the latest, so that the Commission can satisfy itself that aid has not been used to support aggressive market behaviour or loss-making activities and that the privatisation of the company has been transparent and non-discriminatory.

    [16] Taxes dans le secteur agricole en Finlande

    La Commission européenne a décidé de ne pas soulever d'objection à l'égard d'un régime d'aide destiné aux exploitations agricoles en difficulté en Finlande. Les aides prévues sont destinées à diminuer les charges financières de soldes des prêts qui ont été contractés pour financer des investissements déjà réalisés avant l'entrée de la Finlande dans l'Union européenne et concernant des exploitations agricoles en difficulté à cause des charges financières résultant des emprunts.

    [17] Aides dans le secteur agricole et forestier en Italie

    La Commission européenne a adopté une décision finale négative à l'encontre de certaines aides dans la région Sicile (Italie). Il s'agit, notamment: - d'aides pour l'assainissement d'entreprises de commercialisation de produits agricoles et des coopératives agricoles, - de la réduction des frais de transport de produits agricoles et du coût de l'énergie électrique, - d'aides aux investissements en dehors des zones défavorisées, - de subventions à l'hectare pour le maintien de certaines cultures. Le budget global pour ces mesures s'élève à environ 35 millions d'Ecus.

    [18] BSE: beef and beef products disposal scheme in the United Kingdom

    The European Commission decided not to raise objections to an aid scheme envisaged by the United Kingdom authorities providing for traders in the supply chain downstream from the slaughtering sector to dispose of unsaleable stocks of beef meat and beef products free of cost. The measure aims to restore market confidence in beef products and avert any environmental and public health problems which might arise. The stocks would be safely disposed of in an approved manner under the direction of the UK authorities under normal commercial conditions. The budget is estimated at £ 10 million (± ECU 12.3 million), and does not involve any compensation for the losses incurred through write-off of the stocks.

    [19] Aides compensatoires agrimonétaires en Autriche et aux Pays-Bas

    La Commission européenne a décidé de ne pas soulever d'objections à l'encontre des compensations agrimonétaires pour 1996, 1997 et 1998 d'un montant total de 521,8 millions de schillings (38 millions d'Ecus) en Autriche et de 218 millions de florins (99 millions d'Ecus) aux Pays Bas. Les aides sont accordées en application du règlement du Conseil relatif à la compensation des réductions des taux de conversion agricoles de certaines monnaies nationales. Ce règlement fixe notamment les montants maximaux des aides pouvant être octroyées en Autriche et aux Pays-Bas pour compenser les effets des baisses des taux de conversion agricoles le 1er juillet 1995. L'ensemble de ces aides est pris en charge par le budget communautaire.

    [II] Other news - Autres nouvelles

    [20] Egalité des rémunérations entre les femmes et les hommes: code de conduite

    La Commission européenne a adopté un code de conduite concernant l'application de l'égalité des rémunérations entre les femmes et les hommes pour un travail de valeur égale. Ce code a pour objectif de fournir des conseils concrets aux employeurs et aux partenaires de la négociation collective menée au niveau de l'entreprise, au niveau sectoriel ou au niveau intersectoriel, pour assurer l'application du principe de l'égalité dans tous les éléments de la rémunération entre femmes et hommes qui effectuent un travail de valeur égale. Il vise en particulier à éliminer les discriminations fondées sur le sexe lorsque les structures de rémunération s'appuient sur des systèmes de classification et d'évaluation des emplois.

    [21] EC takes new initiatives to foster cooperation amongst the New Independent States

    The European Commission has launched a number of actions to help the New Independent States (NIS) overcome problems common to the countries of the region. Voluntary cooperation between neighbouring states in the region is essential both to expanding trade relations and confronting environmental threats and international crime successfully.

    [22] Euro-Asia meeting to tacke trade and investment barriers

    Top officials from Europe and Asia meet in Brussels next week to discuss ways of improving the investment climate worldwide, and to prepare the ground for concrete measures to increase trade and investment between the two regions. Taking their cue from the ASEM summit of European and Asian leaders in Bangkok last March, senior officials from the twenty-five countries -the fifteen EU states plus China, Japan, Korea and the seven ASEAN nations -will join the European Commission and the Irish Presidency for two days of intensive discussions on July 24 and 25. The aim will be two-fold: firstly, the main focus of the meeting will be to seek to converge European and Asian views on how to liberalise investment at world level, in time for the WTO Ministerial meeting in Singapore in December; and secondly to initiate preparations for a strategy to reduce regulatory barriers that hinder European exports to Asia, which currently run to around $80,000 million a year, and vice-versa, while preparing an investment promotion action plan, both of which would be submitted to Ministers early next year.

    [23] Somalia: Commission clears humanitarian aid worth ECU 1.52 million

    The European Commission has cleared humanitarian aid worth ECU 1.52 million for victims of chronic faction-fighting in Somalia. The aid, channelled via the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO), will enable the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and international non-governmental organisations from Belgium, Spain, Germany and France to carry out practical work in the field over the next eight months.

    MIDDAY EXPRESS


    From EUROPA, the European Commission Server at http://www.cec.lu/
    © ECSC - EC - EAEC, Brussels-Luxembourg, 1995, 1996


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